There are many things that are on your mind before a big trip. Packing is one of them. You have to be especially thoughtful when packing for international trips because paying for overweight luggage or extra bags is very expensive when going abroad. In hindsight, I might have packed a bit too much for my two months in the Galapagos. Although I probably didn’t need all those books and art supplies, there are 5 items I was glad I brought with me.
#1 Hiking/Comfortable Shoes
The Galapagos offers many amazing sites to see, but these locations often include a long hike. Having a good pair of worn-in hiking boots or comfortable tennis shoes will be invaluable. Besides hiking, you will probably have to walk a lot when exploring the different towns on the islands. There are taxis and bikes, but the best way to experience the culture is to walk.
#2 A Good Camera
I’m a little biased about this item. As a photographer, having a camera is non-negotiable, but I think anyone would benefit from having a good quality camera on this trip. The Galapagos is bursting with wildlife that is easy to get up close to. However, you still will need to keep a distance and having a camera with a good zoom lens makes it easier to capture captivating photos of wildlife without breaking park regulations or endangering yourself. There will also be times when you are on a boat tour and there is wildlife on a nearby rock or shore. Again, a zoom lens will make it possible to get photos of wildlife that a phone can’t.
Another type of camera I was glad to have was a waterproof one. The Galapagos has some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Half of the wildlife you will experience is underwater, so if you want to capture it, you will need an underwater camera or underwater housing. A good option is to buy a GoPro or a sturdy point and shoot. I used the Olympus Tough TG6 Waterproof Camera and was very happy with the results.
#3 Snorkel & Mask
Like I mentioned before, the Galapagos has some of the best snorkeling in the world. Although it is possible to rent snorkel and masks from shops and tour companies on the islands, if you plan to snorkel more than once, the cost will add up. Unlike a wetsuit or fins, a snorkel set does not take up a lot of space in a suitcase. You can also get snorkel sets for an affordable price making it an obvious choice for something to pack.
The sun is very strong on the Islands. You could be someone who never gets sunburnt, but I guarantee you will in the Galapagos. One of the worst things you could do is get sunburnt and then be too miserable to do activities. Sunscreen on the islands is usually available but is very expensive. Be sure to buy reef-safe sunscreen.
#5 Reusable Water Bottle
The tap water on the islands is not safe to drink. In fact, you shouldn’t drink the water on mainland Ecuador either. Hotels and hostels on the islands will usually have filtered water for you to drink. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill with safe water so that you can avoid spending money on bottled water. As a bonus to being cost-effective, this is the more eco-friendly option.